PictoWriMo Day 1

It’s here! It’s time! Let’s get down to business. Today being the first day of the 30 day challenge I wanted to start out with a self portrait theme (not that I’m narcissistic or anything).

So here’s the first shot:

pictowrimo 001

This was done in a mirror using a room lamp for the light source coming from the left. I have a 50mm set at f/1.8 and the shutter speed at 1/60 of a second. Having the camera just off my right lower cheek, I aimed as best I could and pressed the shutter release. Of course it took several tries to get the composition where I wanted it but it worked finally.

Next I took it into Photoshop Elements 10. After some color correction and sharpness tweeks (mirrors don’t always reflect sharply) I then used a neat little tool called recompose. This allowed me to pull my face over to the right of the picture without distorting it and get the camera out of frame. While at the same time filling in the left of the frame with a seamless background.

The result being a nice mirror shot with no SLR in front of my face or at my chest level. All ready for Facebook or Twitter profiles.

Now for the second shot:

pictowrimo 002

Today we went out to the Columbus Metropolitan library and I got some photography books for inspiration. Well I wanted to depict this as if I was pulling the books from a magical camera bag.

So I set my camera with the nifty 50 set to f/1.8 and a shutter speed of 1/100 of a second on to my tripod. Then I placed a wireless trigger on my hotshoe and also on my Speedlight and set the Speedlight to 1/64 power (it’s lowest setting).  I really wanted to color the light  but I didn’t have any gels, so improvising had to come into play. Using a plastic inflatable crown that was transparent red that I borrowed  from my son I attached it to the Speedlight and bang, instant gel. Finally, I placed the flash into my camera bag and aimed it right into my face.

It was important to leave the overhead dining room light on because I wanted the background to be a visible and a different lighting color than my face in order for me to emphasize the glow from the bag. So setting the ISO to 200 allowed the camera to pick up the background light well enough to show the surroundings. I pressed the shutter and delayed the trigger with the 10 second timer and ran back into position and click.

Once in Photoshop I adjusted the curves a little and added a circular gradient set on overlay blend mode to darken the shadows some and highlight my face better. That was it on the post processing and now I have a shot telling a story (just what is in that bag anyway?)

If you have a suggestion on a theme you would like me to try or would like to join in the PictoWriMo challenge leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you all.


About Mark Birks
Professional photographer specializing in fine art photography and portraiture.

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